The Algarve – and particularly the seaside village of Praia da Luz – can stop worrying that Scotland Yard might appear back on the ground just as the season gets going to continue the search for Madeleine McCann.
After numerous high-profile visits and almost £12 million spent by the Home Office-led Operation Grange investigation over the last five years, funding has reached tipping point.
Less than £95,000 has been allocated this year – which the Sunday Express explains “will just about cover” wages of the four detectives left on the team for the next six months, and “leaves little left for flights to Portugal or paying for expensive forensic work”.
“Despite all the millions spent and the many trips to Portugal by the Yard, no one has been brought to book and it would appear the trail has gone stone cold”, adds sister paper the Express – stressing that although it was “widely reported” when Grange was in full swing that officers were working on a theory that Madeleine was “abducted during a burglary that went wrong” officers have been “unable to substantiate this line of inquiry with a view to bringing any charges”.
Indeed, police are no nearer knowing what happened to Madeleine almost nine years ago, whether she is alive or dead, and if the former, “where she is now” – though the Express story suggests the Yard has a “much clearer picture” of the events leading up to what detectives still refer to as “Madeleine’s abduction”.
For a holiday resort that lives in dread of the Met returning in force just as the sun comes out, the story could not have been better news.
“The way the village has been ‘hounded’ over the years – labelled as place full of child molesterers, homosexuals, burglars and Eastern European child-snatchers could not have been further from the truth””, said long-term resident Nana Van der Velden who became something of a celebrity in 2014 when she held up a protest banner in front of television cameras with the words: “Dig up the Lies, not Luz”.
But the Express article suggests the news “exposes worrying fallibility in what was once seen as the world’s best police force”.
The “impatient Portuguese media” is almost certain to “demand” that the substance of Grange is now brought into the public domain, adds the paper – and “with all that information available”, Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry will “have a considerable dossier at their disposal to present to any new private investigators they may wish to hire”.
But the Express concludes: “Sadly, the likelihood of discovering the fate of Madeleine before what would have been her 13th birthday next month, looks as distant as ever”.